International book author Neil Gaiman also commented on the issue
Days after the 2022 election, local publishing company Adarna House puts some of its children’s books about Martial Law on sale at a discounted price. Its #NeverAgain bundle includes “Si Jhun Jhun, Noong Bago Ideklara Ang Batas Militar, “Edsa,” “The Magic Arrow,” “Isang Harding Papel,” and “Ito Ang Diktadura.” This prompted an unlikely reaction from the director-general of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Alex Paul Monteagudo.
“This is how the CPP/NPA/NDF radicalize not just our youths, but our children,” Monteagudo posted on Facebook on May 12. “The Adarna Publishing House published these books and they are now on sale to subtly radicalize the Filipino children against our Government, now!”
While Adarna House has not yet released a statement regarding Monteagudo post, Filipino illustrators and authors, and even international novelist Neil Gaiman, have responded to the director-general’s post.
Gaiman retweeted local news website Rappler’s report with a caption that says, “Not good.”
Not good. https://t.co/1fQJhwCyMg— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) May 12, 2022
Book Development Association of the Philippines also weighed on the issue by releasing a statement on Facebook. “Nothing can be farther from the truth,” the organization said. “Four of the titles have been in circulation as historical fiction picture books, and the fifth, ‘Ito Ang Diktadura,’ is a translation to Filipino of a Spanish book first released in Europe in 1977.”
“As publishers, and as parents, teachers, and readers ourselves, we want our children to grow up to become proud Filipinos capable of critical thinking, as it has been said that the mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain a thought and not necessarily accept it,” it continued. “We want our children to know that they can be curious about the world, their environment, about ideas, and, most of all, ask questions. We nurture them with books for them to have minds of their own… We want our children to know the legacy of their ancestors, the richness of their heritage, the sense of well-being borne of their culture and history.”
Filipino illustrators such as Jap Mikel and Ian Sta. Maria, among others, took it to social media to stand with Adarna house by posting illustrations of the local mythical bird.
“Nagbasa ako ng mga aklat na pambata mula sa Adarna noong grade school, pero hindi naman ako naging komunista o rebelde,” Mikel shared through his post. “Ang pagbabasa tungkol sa kasaysayan, partikular sa Martial Law, ay hindi nagtuturo ng komunismo. Ipinapaalala lang nito ang masalimuot na bahagi ng ating kasaysayan upang hindi ito maulit.”
“Ipaglaban ang katotohanan at panitikan. Paliparin ang kalayaan,” Sta. Maria posted.
Adarna House’s #NeverAgain bundle is up for pre-order until May 22. To know more about the books, visit @adarnahouse on Instagram and its website adarna.com.ph.